Air raids destroyed the old Moritzplatz shopping district during World War II. Later the Berlin Wall hulked over the neighborhood. For decades, trash and rubble and graffiti looked right at home until, one day, a garden came along.
In the summer of 2009, a non-profit company called Nomadisch Grun–which translates to Nomadic Green–got a lease and started clearing garbage. Now an oasis, the Prinzessinnengarten is a popular destination in downtown Berlin, with its own coffee shop, toilets, and bar (all housed in recycled shipping containers), and a fanciful children’s playhouse built from metal and wood scraps. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers grow in portable containers; it all moves to an indoor market hall in the winter. Here’s what an entirely portable organic garden looks like:
On summer nights, community dinners; menus are decided by what’s in season.
Filmmaker Robert Shaw got the idea for the garden in Cuba, where urban farmers create communities to grow food together. In Berlin, Shaw and co-founder Marco Clausen mobilized a cleanup effort at a bleak site.
Each April, the 20,000-square-foot garden and its cafe officially open for the season.Vegetables grow in plastic crates, milk containers, rice bags, and recycled plastic bags.
The produce is grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Lettuces are planted in compost, in shipping crates.
No need to be a member; the Prinzessinnengarten is open to the public. Many families spend the day together in the garden.
For more garden inspiration from Berlin, see:
- 10 Garden Ideas to Steal from Germany.
- Studio Visit: At Home with Berlin’s Star Florist.
- Courtyard Comeback: Rescuing a Midcentury Gem in Berlin.